Chapter 7


Page 3

The question for consideration was the franchise for a steam single or double track to the San Francisco and Oakland Terminal and Ferry Railroad through various parts of East Oakland and especially along Third Street to Union Street near the Estuary.

Notwithstanding that the meeting was in the name of the Ordinance and Judiciary Committee, all the other members of the Council save Cadman and Boyer were in attendance.

The petitioner was represented by Attorneys Reed & Nusbaumer and Attorney Bartnett, while the Southern Pacific Railroad Company was represented by Attorney A. A. Moore and Superintendent Palmer.

The chair asked if any protestants desired to be heard. Colonel H. Bendel rose and presented the following protest which was read by Clerk Church:

"Being one of the property owners' of the Sixth ward who protest against the franchise for the construction of a railroad to be run through Third street, I wish to give my reasons for doing so.

"There is no doubt about it that the property, not only on Third Street, but on all streets up to Seventh Street will be greatly depreciated. If it were for the purpose of bringing in an overland competitive road, as has been stated by the papers and also by those parties desiring to obtain a franchise, it might benefit the city of Oakland, and I would be willing to withdraw my protest, even if my property should be largely depreciated in value.

"But I have been informed by reliable parties that this railroad line is only for the purpose of running freight cars through Third Street in connection with the Tesla Coal Company. This would be of no benefit to the city of Oakland, and, at the same time injure all the property of the Sixth Ward, and these who have signed the petition for how many of hundred dollars, will soon become convinced that their property will be appraised in value for more than ten times the amount they received.

If these parties who apply for a franchise honestly mean what they say, the franchise should only be granted under the condition of bringing in a competitive Eastern road. But, as stated above, I have been informed that the parties who apply for the franchise are negotiating with the Southern Pacific road to run all the freight cars through the proposed line on Third street and, such being the case, I would suggest that First street be widened, which would not be objectionable to anybody.

"Now, can the people of Oakland expect us, the property owners of the Sixth Ward to vote for a bond issue for the improvement of parks, boulevards, etc., if our property through a franchise would be greatly depreciated and our taxes increased?

Colonel Bendel endorsed all the Clerk had read and then resumed his seat.

"It would be better" said Mr. Moore, "if all the members of the Council could be present. I think it was hardly proper to refer this matter to the Judiciary Committee instead of the Committee of the Whole, considering that the father of the ordinance (Cadman) is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. It is not likely that the gentleman who introduced the bill would make any report upon it save one favorable to its passage.

"Another thing is the entire absence of what may be called the bona fides of the new alleged company. I have heard no inquiry made by the Council as to the use of the road or as to who is behind it or what they intend to do.

"The modern trend, especially with reference to the existence of railroads within municipal corporations, especially where they have been granted valuable franchises, is to have them, instead of crossing at grade, go over or under existing tracks, and it has been that way for years.

"Municipal corporations are now more careful in giving up the use of streets for franchises. If a franchise to establish this railroad should be granted, it would be a valuable one, and if this company ever undertook to float a bond issue to buy the Tesla road or other property, they would find this franchise to be asset of millions in value. I agree with the gentleman who said that the first and only duty of a body like this is to represent the interests of the great body of the people and of the city. You stand in the position of judges. You should be the conservator of their interests.

"I would suggest that a proper inquiry would be whether along this street that cuts and cuts lines already here; whether, without regard to who is behind it; whether by running on Third Street and blotting out all between First and Seventh streets—whether the city of Oakland would be convenienced or benefited by such a road. That's a matter I am not going into. I would like to have the Council institute inquiries to see who is behind this road.

"Chicago is paying half with the citizens to enable cars to be carried over or under grade, because it is a relic of barbarism where people are settled the thickest that their lives should be jeopardized by the granting of a privilege which is entirely one sided.

Mr. Moore then quoted from the charter of San Francisco to show that the metropolis even had taken a step toward the practice which obtains in the East of requiring applicants for franchises as trans-continental lines to have laid down no fewer than fifty miles in the county; that no exclusive franchise was to be granted to any railroad, and that one company would be allowed to use the tracks of another by the payment of an equitable share of the expense of repairs and maintenance.

"The proposition before you does not present anything to show its good intent. It doesn't propose to pave, but, on the other hand, to lay down tracks from curb to curb.

"My recollection is that when the Santa Fe was seeking a franchise here, the gentleman who represented it, was pulled by the Council, from wherever he was, in San Francisco, I think, brought over here and compelled to state what he wanted and what he proposed to do for the town and people.

"We would then like to be heard as to the safeguards with respect to the line of the Southern Pacific."

"So far as we know," said C. H. King, a protesting property owner at Third and Broadway, "this is a franchise that the Tesla Coal Company asks for. They ask us to give them absolute right to Third Street. They ask us to give them the whole street, the whole sidewalks, which means confiscation of the property. It would render valueless all buildings between Third and First streets for the purposes for which it is used today. These are vested rights and they ask us to sweep them away at once. I think there ought to be an investigation to see if the profits will exceed the benefits."

Mr. Brand, a property owner at the southeast corner of East Twelfth street and Twenty-Third Avenue, said he wanted to sign a protest. It would mean almost the confiscation of his property to grant the franchise because his tenants had threatened to vacate his houses if the road should be

"There are two views to be taken of this petition," said Mr. Evans. "If this is an honest application for a franchise by an independent road, and that a trans-continental road, I think it ought to be granted.

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